|
|
|
|
The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Down Home: Taking a field trip with Dad for a happy pill

  • By the time Dad began this new chapter in his life in a rest home he was angry, agitated and scared. Now, eight months later, his chart says he's pleasantly confused.
    • email print
      Comment
  • By the time Dad began this new chapter in his life in a rest home he was angry, agitated and scared. Now, eight months later, his chart says he's pleasantly confused.
    Granted, it took the help of some happy pills, which at first I wasn't too happy about, but it has taken the edge off, and even though he can't always verbalize what he's thinking, I can see he feels safe and content.
    He doesn't take any other medication, although the cost of the happy pills would stress anyone out. Since he's a veteran, the staff suggested we enroll him in the medical system at the VA Hospital to help with the cost.
    With the appointment set, I spent several weeks being anxious about taking him and hoped it wouldn't upset his routine or attitude.
    Even though my boyfriend's days are busier than ever, he insisted on taking us. It was on a day his calendar was already full, and I'm sure he had to do some serious juggling. I love how I can always count on him to be there, as though he knows when I need help better than I do.
    Dad was ready to go when we asked if he wanted to take a road trip. He'd probably agree to anything just to get outside. Most of the ride was spent listening to him read the street signs and commenting on how many cars were on the roads, although he kept calling them school buses.
    We saw three different doctors and the hardest part was waiting. Although I enjoyed the chance to spend time with Dad outside the home, I could tell he was getting anxious and would ask every couple of minutes where we were and why. Two of the doctors were in the mental health section, since we were asking for happy pills. The first round of questions went well until confusion set in and he decided to just stare daggers at the staff. Instead of asking where he was, he repeatedly said, "it's been a nice meeting, but it's time to go."
    Once we were done, I realized his comfort level wasn't so much from the happy pills, but his security from being surrounded in a home with people he trusts.
    When he got out of the car he shook my boyfriend's hand, like always, and said the familiar line, "thank you, young man" and he walked toward the front door. He turned to me and asked if I knew he had built this place, like he was proud to show it off.
    When I told him I was leaving, his smile faded, as he insisted he was going with me. The day's emotions were already welling up in my throat as I miss him so much. The staff distracted him so I could sneak out but as I was rounding the corner I heard the nurse ask if he enjoyed the day with his daughter.
    Page 2 of 2 - "I haven't seen my daughter in years," he said.
    My first instinct was to run back and scream, "here I am Dad," but I left, knowing he's safe and secure in his new home, with his new family – and that will have to be my happy pill.
    Sandy Turner lives in the Kansas City area and writes this column for GateHouse Media.

        calendar